Efforts to mobilise citizens to apply for ward committee membership have gained splendid traction in the last few weeks. Citizens’ groups such as Lanchamukta Karnataka Nirmana Vedike (LMKNV), Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) and B.PAC have motivated more than 500 citizens to apply for ward committee membership.
A team of LMKNV met almost all BBMP officials connected to the formation of WCs, including Zonal JCs, Council Secretariat officials and Mr. Sarfaraz Khan, Special Commissioner (Health and SWM), stressing the point that it is the “Corporation” that nominates WC members and NOT the “Corporator”.
Several Joint Commissioners of zones of BBMP, who were unaware of the Court order were asked to consider the applications of citizens while finalising the lists of ward committee members. More than 100 citizens mobilised by CfB came physically to submit their applications en masse to BBMP Commissioner, and in his absence, submitted them to BBMP Special Commissioner (Admin), Mr. Vijay Shankar.
Mr. Narendra Kumar wrote a letter to Mr. Sarfaraz Khan, requesting that a circular be issued to all JCs to consider the applications of citizens as per the High Court order. Ms. Kathyayini Chamaraj also gave a circular issued on 1.2.2002 by the then BMP Commissioner spelling out the guidelines that need to be followed while making nominations to ward committees, which said that preference should be given to non-political citizens, that representation should be given to the urban poor, women, youth and all areas of the ward and that suggestions made by non-governmental organisations and RWAs should be considered. The Council Secretary was also met to make sure that all applications forwarded by the Commissioner’s office were being processed.
Letters were also given on 21st June 2017 to Mr. Roshan Baig, UD Minister, Mr. K.J. George, Bengaluru In-Charge Minister, the Additional Chief Secretary, Mr. Mahendra Jain, and Mr. Ponnuraj, Secretary, Urban Development, requesting their support for implementing orders of Hon’ble High Court as per KMC Act of 2011.
The above letter also had suggestions to streamline the process of forming WCs in the future, by impressing upon them the need to amend the Rules to incorporate a democratic process for making nominations to ward committees by calling for applications, calling for objections, scrutinising them and appointing a selection committee of distinguished citizens to make the selection of best persons for ward committee membership to avoid politicisation of the committees and to bring in transparency and accountability at the ward level.
On 22nd June 2017, we were informed by the Council Secretary Ms. Pallavi, that finalization of WCs in all 198 wards is awaiting approval of the Commissioner, who is expected to return on 27th June.
As the next hearing is on 28th June, we are eagerly awaiting submission of the final list of WC members to the High Court and expecting that many ‘citizen’ applicants will find a place in BBMP Ward Committees.
Kathyayini Chamaraj is Executive Trustee, CIVIC. Narendra Kumar is the Executive Member, Bangalore Lanchamukta Karnataka Nirmana Vedike.